One of my earliest TV memories was watching the original “Flash Gordon” show every week after Sunday school. I was fascinated with outer space and the idea that life beyond Earth may really exist. Later, one of my favorite movies was “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” I loved the handsome alien and his reason for visiting our planet – to insist that earthlings stop the wars and violence and learn to live in peace for the sake of all planets in the galaxy.
I wasn’t a fan of the “Star Wars” movies (too much fighting), but I loved “Star Trek.” My favorite character was Dr. Leonard McCoy (a.k.a. Bones), physician for the starship USS Enterprise. He would show total disgust at the archaic ways of some planets when it came to disease-fighting medical practices. Bones could whip out a little device and instantly “zap away” cancer and other maladies.
This summer, I was intrigued when billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos launched themselves into space on rocket ships built with their vast fortunes. I especially loved Bezos’ reasons for pursuing space travel and exploration – to pursue relocating all heavy, polluting industry to other planets in order to preserve the environment here on our beautiful planet. Who can disagree with that?
Some people believe the fortunes of Bezos and Branson would be better spent ending world hunger, homelessness, disease and a host of other crippling problems. The fact is it’s their money, they earned it and they really don’t owe us anything. So, for them to spend billions of dollars to pursue space programs that will ultimately benefit all of mankind is an amazing and generous thing, in my opinion.
According to a recent article in USA Today, some of the technology we have today due to space exploration includes: artificial limbs, insulin pumps, firefighting equipment, LASIK surgery, water filtration, better tires, wireless headsets, invisible braces, freeze-dried foods, camera phones, CAT scans and MRIs, baby formula, memory foam, workout machines, ice-resistant airplanes, LED technology, the computer mouse and athletic shoes, just to name a few.
Several years ago, I had the pleasure of visiting with Lt. Col. Michael Bloomfield, Fenton’s very own NASA astronaut, at a reception marking the opening of the new Lake Fenton High School. A 1977 graduate of Lake Fenton High, he was a special guest at the event.
Whenever Mike was in town, he would visit area school children in their classrooms. His message to the kids was always the same. That is, no matter what their hopes and dreams are for the future, they can accomplish their goals if they always remember to aim high and “reach for the stars.”